6.14.2011

The Public Widow

At Gulf Coast Getaway in Panama City, FL


A month or so after Jeremy passed away, I remember trying to read anything and everything I could find about grief and loss. One of the books I read talked about how the kind of widow you are affects how you grieve. Everyone's journey is unique but there are certain common experiences for widows. There are some categories that were defined as 'needing special support.' For example, losing a spouse when you're in an unhappy marriage, people who had very unstable childhoods, war veterans, losing someone to a perpetrator, someone who experienced more than one loss, etc.

I fell under two categories: pregnant and public

Because of the work Jeremy and me in the church, college, and community, I think I would qualify as "a public widow." And social media these days has created that platform as well. I'm not famous by any means, but my story ran further than I could have ever imagined and before I knew it, people from around the world knew of me and my situation. And everyone was following. Some still are.


It's tough to grieve publicly and feel like people are constantly analyzing what you're experiencing, or watching you non stop. But I think it's been more of a blessing than anything. It may be a little egotistical, but having so many people follow your grief journey really sets the stage for support. I've created an avenue of perspective for people who have no idea what grief is like. It allows them to see into my heart a little and perhaps customize their prayers and offers to help. This is a wonderful thing when you don't know what to ask for. I've had a few people tell me that the posts I leave on Jeremy's FB wall each night are the first things they read in the morning and it allows them to know what to pray about for me each day. What a blessing.


I try not to let the fact that people are watching really affect what I say or feel in this process. Have I censored some things? Hell Heck yes. Have I let out all my demons? Absolutely not. There are so many layers to grief, some that even my closest friends couldn't understand. But I won't apologize for how ugly my emotions can get. I obviously know that people are reading what I write to my husband every night. If I have something to say to him that others can't read, I'll send him a message. But the posts are not for everyone else. They're for me...to remember, to process, and to analyze what I'm experiencing each day. I go back and read what I wrote him all the time, just to remember how far I've come. It's also for Jeremy...my crazy way of still ending my day talking to him like I have for the last 8 years of my life. The things I want him to know about my day.

This is just me. If people get sick of hearing that I am STILL grieving and feeling awful, too bad. If my crappy situation reminds people of their own mortality, fine. I have good moments, but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't experience pain of some sort. And I have days where the pain is almost as bad as the day I found out, maybe worse. But it's the support of those who have stood beside me on this journey that has held me up and kept me going. For that, I'll take the public eye in exchange for heartfelt prayer any day.




18 comments:

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Great pictures Vee. They may be hard to look at but I think it truly shows what you're feeling. *Hugs and prayers!*

"Say What?" said...

Again, I have no words. Just thinking of you, praying for you and wishing I could give you a hug.

It looks like you have a beautiful support group. A true gift from God.

Sarah-Life is what you make it said...

I love the pictures of your friends praying for you. Even though being in the public eye and lots of peopling knowing about Jer (people way up north in canada), it just means more prayers! Still praying for you love.

Anonymous said...

I think you are an incredible person. There is no book or words anyone can say, to really help or guide you in what to do or feel next. And to see that you are still standing, still raising your babies, and still being one of the best people I know, is truly amazing. I am in awe of you each and everyday.
Love you always,
Monica

Jessie's Girls said...

You certainly do have the prayers of so many. I think it is brave of you to be public with your grief as much as you have (and I know so much of it you have not had any choice about).
You have been honest but gracious.

Desi said...

Still following. Always am. Always praying and thinking of you and your family.

Jamie said...

I lost a good friend 11 years ago and I know losing your husband is totally diff, but one thing I did like your are doing is keep a journal and wrote letters to him. I kept my daily planner from that year with notes written in it. I dont regret it at all. Its like a time capsule for me. It got me through.

The Better Baker said...

Thanks for nother beautiful hearfelt post. There is so little any of us can say, but I want to say...KEEP WRITING! It brings healing...and KEEP CRYING! It releases hormones to calm us. God has a plan even in our tears. May God bless you richly as you seek His face in your daily lives. XO

Maria said...

I've been following your writings since your loss, having been directed to you via the food blogging community. I pray for you regularly. Two days ago, a dear friend of mine lost her husband unexpectedly. Your sincere, honest, heartfelt writings give me an inkling of the pain she must be feeling. The post last month titled "How you can help me" gives me insight, too. Thank you for your courage to go public and give us a way to understand a tiny bit about the pain. God bless you and your children.

Danielle_Wright said...

Veronica, seeing the GCG pictures sends me back to that day in January watching all of this go down, learning your story, and really just bawling in my seat because of the loss of my grandmother i had experience in November. You had so much grace in that moment, that i thought maybe one do i could handle this loss, of someone who has been the anchor in my life, one day as well. I just helped my sister bring home my new niece from the hospital today. She is my grandmothers namesake. My grandmother always gave the new babies their first real baths, and i found myself just heart broken that my new niece won't get that. then i found myself get angry because my sister and cousins got to experience that with at least some of their kids, and i have none of my own yet so i never will. Your openness on your blog have let me let myself feel those feelings and be unafraid of sharing them. You being a "public widow" has helped me in many ways. So once again, i am thanking you and continuing to pray for you and your family.

Glenda said...

Beautiful post. Thinking of you and praying for peace and strength for you and the kiddos. God bless you all.

kendra said...

i am one of those that check in on you & want you to know that you are still in my thoughts & prayers,thank you for continuing to post,and post whatever you want,if people don't like it,oh well! don't read it then right? much love to ya'll vee =)

Tamara said...

And heartfelt prayers you have, my friend. Every day. I read your post to Jeremy every morning, for many reasons that I don't know how to verbalize, and some I do. It makes me feel, in some very small way, that I am sharing in your grief. It puts the rest of my day in perspective. And finally, I just want to know how you are doing. We love you. Thank you for your honesty.

kkhk12 said...

Vee... Thinking of you, Faith, Caleb and Carter today. Hope that you feel Jeremy's presence today and always. I think of you, Jeremy and your kids so often. Wish there was more that I could do for you to help ease your pain and help with your healing. I admire your relationship Jeremy and you are so lucky to have someone who adores you. Hope you can find a small piece of happiness today knowing Jeremy is watching over you and sharing this day with you and the kids.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vee, checking in today because it is father's day and I am guessing that this will be one of those hard days, where you wonder what the plan could possibly be and how THIS could be it. Also, every single time I read your blog I wonder if you would like to come to Camp Widow. Knowing that Carter is so little makes me wonder if you would be willing/able...but I want to let you know that we will pay for you to join us if you want to come. No strings attached, no expectations...so if you don't want to or can't or just don't want to think about it, no worries. I just want you to know that if you think a weekend with a ton of others who are walking this road could help you, I want to make that happen. Here is the info: www.campwidow.org and again no pressure. You can contact me directly if you are interested at micheleh at sslf dot org.

Know that you are held close in prayer on days like today, and on all the not so obviously hard days in between.

In hope,

Michele

Sarah Renee' said...

You truly are an inspiration, your words hit my heart like a baseball bat. No one can even imagine the pain, and heart ache you have experienced. I pray for you, and your kids. I pray you find your light at the end of the tunnel… It may take years, but I hope sooner than later you find what Gods great plans were in all this.
You, and your three little kings are in my thoughts everyday!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know I still think of you all the time and you are in my prayers.

Ashley Brennan

Tiffany said...

You're doing great. I'm so glad you won't apologize for either your words or your emotions. Keep stepping one foot in front of the other.

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